The banality of Islamist politics
Anderson, Mark A.
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Political Islam has emerged as an unambiguous threat to liberal and Western-leaning regimes throughout the world. Public discourse has focused on the Islamic nature of this challenge, emphasizing the cultural characteristics of the threat. In contrast, this thesis argues that Political Islam is essentially a political challenge. Further, states can and do dictate the political space available to Islamists. In order to illustrate this argument, Indonesia and Algeria serve as case studies. These two culturally, economically and ethnically diverse nations share a predominance of Muslim adherents. Each nation has struggled with Political Islam. Yet, the consequences of state policy have profoundly differed. Recent innovations in political science theory are employed to provide a uniform structure of comparison between the two case studies. The thesis concludes that states make a choice whether to play offense or defense against their political opposition. When states choose the offensive, using targeted, preemptive repression to subsume the political space, they are successful. When states choose the defensive, using indiscriminate, reactive repression to foreclose political space, they are failures. This thesis implies that states, far from being hapless victims of fervently religious movements, can exercise a broad array of policy options to compete with Political Islam.
RightsThis publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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